Top 10 Posts of 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017

In celebration of another year in the blogging books, I rounded up the top 10 posts from 2017 as determined by page view. Y'all were into babies, motherhood/parenting, NFP, and obscure liturgical things.
That's why we're such good friends!

In ascending order....


Ember Days - The Best Part of the Liturgical Year You Never Knew Existed

In case you missed the Advent Ember Days, fear not! These happen four times a year. Next ones will be the Lenten Ember Days on Feburary 21, 23, 24.


I Survived Two Weeks of Solo Parenting + A Giveaway!

Now I'm willing to bet this showed up so high on the list becuase there was a giveaway involved. But getting through two weeks of solo parenting a 4 and 2 year old, while 4 months pregnant, was an accomplishment and I'm stinkin' proud of it!


The Longest Night - Felicity's Birth Story

Because who doesn't like a good birth story??
Many people probably, but they are totally MY guilty pleasure read and apparently some of y'all's too.


7 Misconceptions I Had About Motherhood Before My First Baby

Ah, the reckoning of life experience! 


The Hidden Scars - Dealing with Miscarriage and Secondary Infertility

Because sometimes I need to sit the world down and give it a talkin' to.


That Time I Cried in Church - How Parishes Can Be More Family Friendly

"We have been attending the 8am mass at our parish for a few years now. We are, typically, the only family with young kids at that mass.
That has been far and away a positive experience. ...
But then there is an event like yesterday, and I end up crying silent tears in the pew."

Small changes make a big difference for young family just trying to make it to mass every week!


NFP and the Single Woman

The lack of stories about single women using NFP to track their own health bothered me and I'm not even single! Thanks to the five women who shared their personal stories with us that past NFP Awareness Week.


A Quick St. Nicholas Gift Guide

Lots of you wanted to do St. Nicks big this year, and I fully support that!


Finding a New Beautiful in Postpartum

Life with three kids - it's a turning point. 


And our most viewed post of the year is.....

Embracing the Beautiful Body - Claire's Story

Fun Fact - Claire was also our doula for Felicity's birth. Pretty cool Catholic woman all around!

Honorable Mention goes to my first truly viral Facebook post.

I made this in 20 minutes while wearing and feeding the baby. 
I'm very happy you all wanted to fulfill canon law and share that joy with your friends!


Coming up in the next year:

Big renovation project
Re-entering the local theater scene
A Lenten challenge
Another special themed NFP Awareness Week
Marriage topic series

Stay tuned!

Go check out the link up on Revolution of Love to see more Top 10 posts!

2017 - A Year in Pictures

Friday, December 29, 2017

Another year draws to a close!
I love these year in review things, so I'm hoping to catch a few in these last days of 2017. Here's the past year in 12 pictures!


An epic month in which The Importance of Being Earnest opened, Matt got a new job offer (which would mean moving halfway across the country), and a positive pregnancy test - all in one weekend! Sometimes God says yes to all of your prayers all at once.


February saw the closing of Earnest, a house hunting trip out to Minnesota, and a friends trip to Tahoe. Adventure John hiked for 3+ miles in snowshoes, and Therese saw snow for the first time.


February started our slow goodbye to the Bay Area. I did the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge as my Lenten practice to get ready for our impending move. Matt was sent out to Minnesota for training, and I survived 2 weeks of solo parenting. Therese had requested this picture post-parish St. Patrick's Day party to show off her "Sink Patrick's Day Tween".


We celebrated our last Easter with the Dominicans and began our 5 days between homes at the end of the month - but not before I made it to see Hamilton in San Francisco! 
Our last 767 pizza party brought an end to an era.


We arrived in Minnesota on May 1st .... and it snowed. Welcome to the Midwest!
The weather got it in gear by the end of the week, and Matt and the kids ran their first Minnesota race the following weekend. 
After not having driven since 2008, learning to drive our minivan (our very first car!) was an adventure.


Summers in Minnesota are certifiably beautiful, and we had a blast exploring our new home state. Being the Bay Area veterans we are, we had tracked down a CSA and promptly signed up. On their first visit to the farm, the kids played in the dirt, took a tractor ride, and picked strawberries and peas in the rain. John decides he wants to be "a farm kid".


In July we were hardly home!
We started in Texas for my family reunion on the lake. Flew to Denver for a wedding and visited family in Golden and Rocky Mountain National Park while we were at it. Drove from Denver to Idaho Falls, ID to meet up with friends and visit Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Flew to Atlanta for the last wedding where John and Therese made their debut as ring bearer and flower girl.

At the end of all of that I learned:
1. Kids will  lose it in the last 20 minutes of a trip, no matter if it's 2 hours long or 12 hours long.
2. Our kids are still fabulously portable people.
3. It is absolutely possible to pack for everything from a black tie wedding to back country tundra in a single bag.


We started school in early August to pad in extra time off around baby's birth. Therese doing PK3 using 26 Letters to Heaven and John in Kindergarten using Mother of Divine Grace.
John and Matt had a Father/Son road trip down to Wisconsin to see an Eagles/Packers pre-season game. I think it made John's year.


Ah the due window month, but no baby arrived this month! She took her sweet time.

We still kept busy (if you haven't caught on, busy is the MO around here) with the parish fall festival, John beginning in the boys program at Minnesota Dance Theater, welcoming some Bay Area friends, and going to our first state fair (aka. The Great Minnesota Get Together.)


Felicity Anne finally arrived on the 5th!
Most of October was spent recovering and getting to know this new little person. The kids loved having Daddy in charge of homeschool. Grandma came for a visit at the end of the month and was here for our first ever Trick or Treating Halloween!

Matt was a football player (no surprise on the team), Kirby was Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, John a Knight, Therese was Cinderella, and Felicity was our little pumpkin.


We began to start seriously looking for forever home, which (obviously) includes trying out the local parks. #priorities 
We made an offer on one house, and got accepted, but the inspection turned up issue upon issue so we had to walk away.

I started to get back into auditioning and discovered the Twin Cities theater scene is very different from the SF Bay Area. It is bizarre to show up to absolutely packed green rooms filled with women who could be my twin. After a few unsuccessful auditions, I decided to redirect and up my game. More of that to come in the New Year!


For the first time ever we did not travel for the holidays. I did miss seeing family and friends over Christmas very much, but it was special to start some of our own ways of celebrating. 
We cut down our first full sized Christmas tree farm (in the snow!) and John was in his first Christmas pageant as a shepherd. 
We did end up seeing family over the holidays. My sister surprised us with a last minute visit from Texas. Never was there a more thrilled niece and nephew!

We found another house, that fits us even better than the first, and are currently in the inspection period. Fingers crossed!


Linking up with Bobbi at Revolution of Love!

Getting Past Prayer Paralysis

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Would you like to lead us in prayer?"

That sentence will send most cradle Catholics into an anxious mental dizzy.
"What do I say? Am I getting too personal? We did not cover this in CCD. Oh my gosh THEY'RE LOOKING AT ME!"

Extemporaneous prayer, meditative prayer, Lectio Divina are all well beyond my comfort zone.
But they shouldn't be! Prayer is a skill and it needs to be practiced and developed.

Parents are to be the first, and primary, catechists to their children (CCC 2226). That means if I'm lacking knowledge or practice in prayer skills, it's my God-given job to get it together.

Thankfully, Catholicism is not a solo practice. Tools abound! I have been very impressed with The Catholic Family Book of Prayers: A Treasury of Prayers and Meditations for Families to Pray Together. It's a skinny book (fits easily in my purse) and successfully covers the essentials of prayer, with beautiful pieces of art throughout.

My personal favorite thing is the section on meditation and contemplation. It has step-by-step guides, with SCRIPTS, for leading your family in Christian meditation, Lectio Divina, praying with Sacred Art, and examination of conscience. If I can teach reading with a script, I can certainly handle a family meditation!

The book is a fantastic cheat sheet for all of those surprise additional prayers at the end of rosaries. When 2 or 3 are gathered...Catholics add prayers! The simplicity of the book means it only takes seconds to find prayers you might have learned once upon a time, but could use a refresher on the fly (*cough* Anima Christi).

I'm not good at extemporaneous prayer, but it no longer feels impossibly difficult to get started.

You can find The Catholic Family Book of Prayers in digital and hard copy directly from Gracewatch Media, or hard copy on Amazon.

I was provided with a free copy to review by Gracewatch Media, but all impressions and claims are my own.

#EmberDaysObservance and Time Marches On

Friday, December 22, 2017

It has been a very busy season in the Hoberg household! Here's some of the things that have been up this week.


Negative degrees are coming this week. Our area gearing up for the coldest Christmas in 20 years, and for sure the coldest cold anyone in our family has experienced. The time for creative ways to get physical activity into our day has arrived, so send me all of your ideas for getting out some high energy when it's too cold to leave the house with the baby!


We are midway through the Advent season Ember Days today. This is the only one of the Ember Days in which no one in the family has any events or appointments, so today will be our biggest cleaning day! Catch me over on Instagram (@underthyroof) to follow along. Tag your photos with #EmberDaysObservance and lets encourage each other through today and tomorrow's Ember Saturday.


Never heard of the Ember Days? Here's an overview.


You know Christmas is around the corner when you do your LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!
We wrapped up yesterday morning.

I had started our year early in August, thinking I needed to build in some flex time for postpartum. Matt proved to be a very competent substitute homeschool teacher, and now we are ahead of our year by 2 weeks!

However, it is high time to re-organize the school supplies and clean out the endlessly multiplying art projects. I'm 90% sure almost all of the pencils have had their erasers chewed off, and most all of the markers are used up or dried up. Time to regroup!


This baby is almost 3 months old!

I feel like each baby seems easier than the last. This one is just huge! She was 9lb 10oz at birth, and I had to size her up to the Ergo at 2 months because her weight was stretching out the Moby too much.

She has had her first visits to the child watch at the YMCA, and did fabulously. Big brother and sisters were very proud to show baby sister around "Y for Y". Her favorite things are quietly looking around and staring at people until they look at her (which she rewards with a big, toothless, smile.)


I like to do a "learning show" as kids are waking up from nap, and the favorite right now are the various historical farm series from the BBC. We've done Victorian Farm and we're now on Wartime Farm. John in particular is SUPER into it.

BBC narrator: "While some things are moving along nicely on the farm, there is concern about the weather. It has been raining steadily for weeks."


Farm shows are the soap operas of the elementary school crowd.


I have been thinking I want to try some other forms of prayer with the kids, and teach them some more memorized prayers, in the coming year. This lovely book arrived today and I love it so far. Review coming soon!

7 Lists for Your 12 Days of Christmas and Beyond

Friday, December 8, 2017

So you want to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas this year, but what do you DO that whole time? Here's my lists of 12 cookies/sweets, Christmas movies and songs, beverages for the grown ups, outings, my winter reading list, and my top 12 one-pot or crockpot dishes from the past year.

12 Cookies/Sweet Treats

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sugar Cookies
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Chocolate Crinkles
Mock Peanut Brittle
Rice Crispy Treats
Christmas Fudge
German Chocolate Cheesecake
Mug Cakes
Kings Cake Coffee Cake

12 Christmas Movies

Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer - the 1964 one
White Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life
Charlie Brown Christmas
Frosty the Snowman - 1969 version. Go nostalgic or go home.
The Santa Clause
The Polar Express
Meet Me in St. Louis - It has a classic Christmas song in it sung by Judy Garland! It counts!
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Miracle on 34th Street
Holiday Inn
A Christmas Story - This is my husband's favorite Christmas movie. It's far from mine, but I love my husband so it gets to live on my list.

12 Adult Beverages

Something important to know about me, if you want to bond over Vodka, fruity drinks, or anything alcoholic that does not taste ain't happening. Sorry.
All of the recommendations to follow involve Bourbon, Whiskey, Ale, Coffee, and other hallmarks of a, slightly hipster, old Irish man.

Christmas Old Fashioned - or just a regular Old Fashioned, but it's fun to be festive.
Irish Coffee
Hot Buttered Bourbon
Mulled Wine - I'll probably make this recipe, plus the article includes lots of other warm drinks (not necessarily alcoholic) to make in your slow cooker.
Maple Manhattan
Revolver - my twist on this is to use regular bitters and slightly burn the orange peel before putting it in the drink. Gives it a nice, smokey, orange flavor.
Hot Toddy
Bourbon Sidecar
Salted Caramel Eggnog 
Kahlua Hot Chocolate
Christmas Ale- my ideal plan would be to get a growler of Christmas ale, or stout, from a local brewery, but I'll likely end up buying a pack of Anchor Steam's Christmas Ale. It's consistently delicious!

12 Out and About Adventures

Winter hike
Art Museum
Winter or Christmas Festival
History Museum
Historical Home
Drive to look at Christmas lights
Try a new resturant
Ice Fishing
New Library or Bookstore
Zoo or Aquarium
Sports Game or Theater show

12 Christmas Songs

Music is a big part of our day. (If you're singing, you're not fighting! Generally!) Here are some of the Christmas songs and carols I'll be doing with the kids during the 12 days of Christmas. Some are musically simple and some are a little more challenging.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Yes, I know it's an Advent song, but it's pretty and the kids have spent the past month learning it in English and Latin, so it's an achievable option!)
Jingle Bells
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Silent Night
O Christmas Tree
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Hark the Harold
Away in a Manger
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Here We Come A-wassailing
12 Days of Christmas
The First Noel

12 Books on My Winter Reading List

I'm an eclectic reader, but you can generally bet I'll have a good amount of non-fiction, an autobiography, and a smattering of fiction on my list. It's a mix of heavy and light, heady and quick.

Super Girls and Halos by Maria Morera Johnson
Keeping Christmas: Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land by Kathleen Stokker
Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II by George Wigel
Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters by Erica Komisar
On Pilgrimage by Dorthy Day
Strangers and Sojourners by Michael D. O'Brian
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism by Robert Barron
Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Grace and Joy in the Messiness of Motherhood by Kate Wicker
Haystack Full of Needles: A Catholic Home Educator's Guide to Socialization by Alice Gunther
The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe

12 Warming Dishes

I collected my top 12 one pot/pan/skillet or crockpot dishes that I tested out this year. No cold recommendations here!

One Pot Creamy Parmesan Garlic Risotto with Lemon Pepper Chicken
One-Pan Maple-Dijon Chicken with Winter Veggies
Slow Cooker Pasta E Fagioli Soup
Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Skillet Shepard's Pie
One-Pan Chicken Thighs with Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Rice
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Marsala
One Skillet Thai Chicken Thighs + Noodles
Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew
Crock Pot Chicken Pho
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Slow Cooker "Rotisserie" Chicken - (This is what I use before I make chicken stock. It's delicious! And cheap! Instructions for that in this post.)

It should be noted that I am only planning on completing the first 3 lists during the 12 Days of Christmas. The rest are take-as-you-will ideas for the 12 Days. This is supposed to be fun, not stressful!

For details on how we make 12 days of celebration possible, see this post


The Advent Game Plan to Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Updated to link up with This Ain't the Lyceum.

For the first time ever our little family is not traveling during the Christmas season. This gives us a prime opportunity to really embrace our own 12 Days of Christmas! There will be baked treats, Christmas movie extravaganza, and Winter adventures.

There are some basic rules:
  • No school or extraneous work
  • Prioritize time with friends and family
  • Keep the chores to a minimum 

That means I spend my Advent preparing for Christmas in a very literal sense. If mom wants a break for 12 days, there is some prep required! Here's what we do.

Stock the freezer

One of my plans is to have a different cookie or treat every day of the 12 days of Christmas. In order to make that happen, I make a double batch of dough, bake up half for our parish's fundraiser, and freeze the rest of the dough for the Christmas season. Five varieties are done that way so far!

If you wanted, you could stock some freezer meals that could be easily heated up or dumped in the crockpot to minimize your kitchen time during the 12 days.

Deep clean during the Ember Days

Everyone likes to spend time in a clean space, and the Ember Days provides the opportunity to physically prepare your home for Christmas. I do tasks, like scouring the stove and bathtub, that I'm likely to put off doing. 

Everyone pitches in. It's a good time for the kids to go through their things and decide if there are clothes or toys that can be given away or perhaps don't even fit. Even the toddlers can use a rag with vinegar and water to wipe down low windows and dust under tables.

This year, Ember Days fall on December 20, 22, and 23. You can read more about the Ember Days (they come around four times a year!) in this post.

Invite others in

Part of why we bother with a through Advent cleaning is so that it is easy to bring hospitality into our 12 Days observance! You might choose to host an open house, a white elephant exchange, a playdate, or feast day party. If you want to do something big, consider letting people know about it now before the Christmas burnout sets in.

Dream Big

I'm a list person so I am making a list of  12 things to do out, 12 things to do at home, 12 Christmas movies and 12 low energy family ideas. Pinterest is a useful starting place!

But also with a backup plan

We will NOT be completing everything on the lists! On purpose.
This is a marathon celebration and building in flexibility and adaptable ideas are necessary.

Living in Minnesota means there is a good possibility of inclement weather, sub-zero temps, difficulty driving, etc. I am making my lists with the hope that we can do things out, like visit the art museum, but allowing the possibility we may be housebound and reliant on Amazon Prime.

Maybe we just won't FEEL like going out either. Maybe we'd rather roast marshmallows in the fireplace or play a board game. That counts!

Wrap Christmas books

We will be wrapping up 12 Christmas books and numbering them to unwrap one on each of the 12 days. 
These are not all new books! Just wrap books you already have. It's childhood magic!

I saw Rosie at A Blog for My Mom to do this last year and got inspired! She has a great post on Christmas and Advent reads for the 6 and under crowd.

Don't Forget the Adults!

The 12 Days of Christmas are not just for kids! I'm planning some things just for my husband and I. If it's not already planned, it's too easy to just focus on the kids and not feed out relationship too. 

Warm cocktails to try, at home date ideas, and an out of the house date planned.


If I get ambitious, I'll make Pinterest boards (and maybe get around to updating pinterest :P) with some of the ideas we're planning.

What are you doing for the 12 Days? Do any of your plans need Advent time prep?

Advent - Contain Your Excitement

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Advent is coming! Now that we live in the Great White North it is very tempting to deck the halls with Christmas joy right when December 1st hits.

But we wait.

Advent is a season in of itself and it's worth the wait to let Advent do its work. Here's what we do before the joyous day of Christmas arrives!

Advent Wreath and Advent Decorating

On the first Sunday of Advent we put up our Advent wreath, greenery decorations, lights, and hang stockings.

This will be our first year getting a full size Christmas tree! While we'll probably get the tree in early December, I like the idea of not decorating it with ornaments until Gaudete Sunday. The Advent and Christmas seasons are a marathon - best to pace ourselves!

St. Nicholas (December 6th)

Our first Big Deal feast of Winter!
I grew up with the German style tradition of St. Nick filling stockings instead of shoes. I have a whole post on what we put in those stockings and how we celebrate the day.

St. Lucia (December 13th)

Like all good 90s girls, I was introduced to St. Lucia celebrations via American Girl books. This year Therese is finally big enough to play St. Lucia so maybe we'll add in more of the procession this year! Here's what the celebrations looked like last year.

Marian Feasts - Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12th) and Immaculate Conception (December 8th)

There might be a lot of feasts in the month of December, but it would never do to forget mother Mary! I don't do anything too big for these feasts, but they are still celebrated.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the pro-life movement. We watch the CCC Juan Diego movie and offer a rosary for life.

Immaculate Conception is actually for the conception of Mary, not the conception of Jesus (common mistake). It's also the patron feast day for the United States, and a solemnity. So get thee to mass, pray for the country, and have some sort of white dessert. Boom. Celebrated!

Ember Days - Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday of the 3rd Week of Advent

Those final days of preparation before settling into the welcoming of Christmas! I love Ember Days, but if you've never heard of them you're in good company. They are 3 days toward the beginning of each liturgical season set aside for fasting and prayer and to "to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy." It contains the cleaning and preparing and forces me to stop and enjoy the fruits of our preparations! Read more about them here.

The beauty of letting Advent be Advent is we get to go all out through the whole Christmas season! This is the first year we will not be traveling to family for Christmas, and I'm planning an epic 12 day celebration. More on that later!

Want more ideas? Check out other Advent posts on this month's CWBN Blog Hop!

Finding a New Beautiful in Postpartum

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Life with three kids - it's a turning point. Three is when there are more kids than adults, more needs than time, and the list of "shoulds" ("I should be getting dinner ready by now." "I should be reading more with the big kids.") reaches heights never before seen as a family of four.

I am a type A person. An overdoer. A constant planner. But even my hat juggling skills are being put to the test.

The temptation to hide in my house and pretend I got this is STRONG. Because I DO "got this" to some extent.
I can get the laundry done (even with all the cloth diaper laundry).
I can manage to feed everyone (even with their insistence that three meals a day are necessary).
I can even manage to homeschool since it directs the energy and attention of the big kids.
....but I can do it a lot better, and as a less stressed mom, if I let people help.

For the past weeks since Matt went back to work, we have been blessed to have postpartum doulas with our family once or twice a week. For someone with my personality, it is a helpful and a humbling experience to have the postpartum doulas here. It means allowing someone to step and and do tasks as good, or better, than I.

It also lets me see that, even with the extra set of hands, the list of tasks does not run out. In some odd way it is freeing to know that even if I had two of me it STILL would not be all done. That list of shoulds would be just as long, and no amount of efficiency would allow me to plow through them all to my satisfaction.

Ultimately the postpartum doulas are my scaffold while we come out of postpartum survival mode and continue to move forward into the beauty of being a family of five. Earlier this year I wrote about the need to value myself enough to move out of survival mode and into the beautiful.
The beauty of friendship.
The beauty of faith.
The beauty of art.
The beauty of connection.
Postpartum is an opportunity to find a new beautiful. 

This is the sixth postpartum week for me. These past weeks I have been preparing to return to the arts I love and activity I crave.
But auditioning postpartum is tough.
Returning to an exercise routine and ballet is tough.
The temptation to just let it go and not put myself out there to be rejected over and over again is high. I don't LIKE being rejected, but rejection is necessary to have the opportunity to perform the art I love. I will be more authentically myself if I am vulnerable enough to go through the (likely) rejections.

A Quick St. Nicholas Gift Guide

Sunday, November 12, 2017

St. Nicholas Day is on the horizon!

In our house St. Nicholas is the first Big Deal Feast of winter. We put up our stockings on the First Sunday of Advent and await the arrival of St. Nick on December 6th.

But what to put in those stockings? Here are the three things I normally include:

1. "Fancy" Band-aids
2. Chocolate
3. Small toy/game

Yes, I give my kids band-aids as a present. You should see the excitement caused by Disney Princess band-aids!
The kids can use the band-aids however they want, provided they only go on their own bodies. Not in your sister's hair, on the walls, floors, or as "armor" on the baby's arm. (I have reasons for my rules. So many good reasons.)

Sometimes I get chocolate coins, but I find the toddlers give up trying to peel them and just end up eating the foil. Now I mostly get really cheap Halloween candy.

We've done waterpaint books, an Uno game, mini-puzzles, and small balls as the toy gift. Normally these come from the dollar store or the clearance section and they have always been a hit.

Now that my kids are getting older, and there are more of them, I like the idea of having a larger shared gift.

My little kids LOVE their My Little Church Magnet Playset from Wee Believers. They are only allowed to play with it during mass, provided they take turns nicely. This will entertain a preschooler through most of a homily!

For older kids, I love this Magi Ornament Sewing Kit. The ornaments could be put to use as the traveling Wise Men for the 12 Days of Christmas or just hung on the Christmas tree.
Magi Ornament Sewing Kit - The Wee Believers Toy Company

This My Pop-Out Nativity would make for a good first Nativity scene if you are short on space.

My Pop-Out Nativity - The Wee Believers Toy Company
If you want to use any of these ideas, Wee Believers sent me a discount code for you to use! KIRBY30 will get you 30% off your entire order.

I pop Overnight Cinnamon Rolls into the oven when we wake up, and they are normally about ready for icing by the time everyone has finished exploring the contents of their stockings. Later in the day we'll read books on St. Nicholas and watch the CCC movie Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa.

Simple enough of a celebration to fit into a school/work day, but special enough to stand out for the kids. The magical happy place of liturgical living!

How do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? Is it a big deal in your house?

7 Misconceptions I Had About Motherhood Before My First Baby

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

As I am currently stuck under sleeping baby #3, I got nostalgic thinking of all the things I believed about motherhood before I had baby #1. Past me, LOL. This is not at all how I pictured motherhood, yet everything I need motherhood to be.

1. Community will just happen

It's like my pregnant mind forgot that all relationships, including while you are parenting, will require time and effort.

Community is not impossible to find, but does need initiative. Isolation does not not breed connection. Making the effort to call up a friend for a short chat, invite someone for a walk around the neighborhood, or showing up for a church event pays off.

2.  You need a "mom tribe”

We've all seen the click-bait articles, don't buy it.
The in vogue belief that all moms need a "mom tribe" leaves the unspoken impression that moms can only have authentic connection with other moms. Now it's awesome to connect with other mothers in the same trench, but nothing beats the perspective giving help of interaction with someone in a different season of life!

3.  I know exactly what I will need for baby

Yes I am the oldest of five and have babysat more kids than I can remember, but that does not mean I know what THIS baby will need. All people have different needs (surprising, I know) and what works for one might not work for another.

Time has marched on and people have come up with some hands-down clever tools for getting through parenting tiny people! No shame in needing to invest in a new baby item when it makes the difference between a happy, sleeping, baby and a screaming banshee baby.

4. I will do “x” parenting style, obviously

I only heard that there were such a thing as named parenting styles while pregnant with my first baby. So naturally I had to find my perfect fit parenting style, and commit to it, right then! Attachment parenting was the "in" thing in my area, and people online were gung-ho about it, so that was what I was going to do!
Then PPD happened. And breastfeeding did not work. And the whole thing came crashing down.

If I had given myself the grace to do what worked, and the space to figure out what worked, I could have saved myself a lot of hard times.

5. “x thing I’ve never tried before” is too hard/too messy/too expensive/won’t work 

I am shocked to find myself cloth diapering, formula feeding, and babywearing into toddlerhood. It is the exact opposite of what I assumed I would do, but it works for us.

It is amazing how many myths about parenting one can buy into when not yet a parent. Cloth diapering was my personal minefield of myths. I thought it was only for hippies who did not care much for personal hygiene anyway. It would be too expensive to get started, and there was no way I could manage it when the only access to a washer/dryer was the laundromat two blocks up.

Then I found out my super cool mom neighbor cloth diapered with a diaper service. I did not think they were crazy hippies and they were probably just as budget-aware as us. I had my first sensitive skin baby and need a solution to the perpetual diaper rash.
So we gave it a shot and loved it!

Now with baby #3 we're even washing them ourselves. Not gonna lie, cloth diapering can totally still be messy but it's a lot less gross than I assumed.

6. I will either feel like I can handle anything or be insecure about everything 

There was no middle ground in my early mothering days: I was either supermom with no problems or completely overwhelmed and failing at everything. I would not have admitted this thought consciously at the time, but my control and security in motherhood was very fragile before my first baby. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop or for judgement to happen (Mommy Impostor Syndrome could totally be a thing.)

Owning my motherhood was a process. Admitting I did not have it all together was one thing, but accepting I could be good at something, while still struggling elsewhere, was a novel thing for me.
I did not relax into motherhood so much as actively take up my struggles AND gifts in one armload and keep walking down the mothering road.

7. It will get easier when “x”

I held out a mythical "it will be easier when _____" carrot for too long. There is no easier, there is just different. Learning to watch for a difference, instead of waiting for easy, made a huge change in how I mentally handled my current parenting challenges.

Do you see any of your own misconceptions? Think I'm totally off the money? What were some things you believed pre-babies that life debunked for you?

The Longest Night - Felicity's Birth Story

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This little lady kept us waiting on her birth!

I had a good amount of prodromal labor starting at about 37 weeks. I had the same thing with John so I could at least tell this was not the real deal, but contractions with no baby as an end result is frustrating when you are term and good to go.

Due date came and went.

As the 42 week mark edged nearer, I started (trying) to make my mental peace with the looming likelihood of induction and a hospital birth. I am not against hospitals, or inductions, but the whole situation smelled eerily similar to the progression of events in our first birth that led to such a drastic difference in birth choices. That was not a road I wanted to walk down again.

At 41 weeks I started having more frequent, and longer, midwife appointments to check on me and baby. Halfway through the week we did a biophysical profile.

Each test and check in always came back with solid results. Both baby and I were doing well, but it was mentally getting to me to see that 42 week mark inching closer.

The evening after the biophysical scan I could tell something was different.

Baby had not been in a great position for most of the end of my pregnancy. (She seemed under the impression that my right hip was her own personal teddy bear.) The downside of being so incredibly flexible when not pregnant is the extra hormones at the end of pregnancy make my body too flexible. It's very easy to move baby around, but also incredibly easy for her to slide out of position.

I figured this might be another set of prodromal contractions as my body tried to correct her position (again).

But they didn't stop. I still ate dinner with the family and we made a plan for the evening.

By 5:30 I was feeling confident enough that this was the real deal to give the midwife and doula a heads up. Contractions were still about 8 minutes apart so there was no big rush.

I had made a checklist of things that needed to happen once in labor, and Matt started getting the big things done. I moved the labor and postpartum kits upstairs and got some of the comfort measures and tools set up.

Matt gave the kids a bath and put them to bed about 7:30 as usual. We had made prior arrangements for a sibling doula to be with them during the labor, but it didn't feel necessary to have her there if the kids were just sleeping. We let her know, and planned to update if we needed support later.

After the kids were down, there was time to go through the labor just the two of us. I feel like the labor was in a bit of a holding pattern while the kids were awake. Once they were safely tucked into bed, it felt like labor had permission to really get going!

By 8:00 contractions had ramped up in intensity and were coming every 3-4 minutes. I let the midwife and doula know the change and they both got ready to head over to our house.

Our doula arrived at 8:30 and I hopped into the shower while she and Matt finished getting the beds double made and birth tub ready.
In early labor my best friends are the yoga ball and finding some solitude. Once I hit active labor I want bigger movement, heat, and water. Water y'all, it's amazing.

The midwife arrived a little before 9:00 and I labored on the yoga ball while we checked vitals and listened to baby.
I had tested positive for GBS earlier in the pregnancy so we had to run a course of antibiotics in an IV. It is not a particularly fun experience to be hooked up to an IV bag in active labor, but this was the best course of action to keep baby healthy. I kept reminding myself that once that IV bag was empty I could get the needle out of my arm and get into the lovely, warm, tub!

We had a birth tub from the midwife that can maintain heat, but the water needs to be at the desired temperature when the tub is filled. Matt had started filling the tub while the midwife was doing vital checks, but the water started to run cold sooner than we hoped. So he boiled pots of water on the stove in the kitchen, hauled them up the stairs, and started filling the tub pot by pot.
That's love y'all.

The doula hung with me while Matt worked on the tub. She had put together a Spotify playlist for the labor, and was doing awesome making sure I kept hydrated, rubbing my back through contractions, and heating the rice sock.

I was finally good to get in the birth tub at 11:00 and it was sweet sweet relief!

The baby's less than ideal position meant that I was dealing with a lot more back pressure, but the extra buoyancy in the tub helped take the pressure off my legs and let me try to move more to help baby turn.

By 1:00 contractions had intensified to what I would call transition level contractions. These are long, hard, big contractions.

I'm just going to note again here that this baby was not actually born until 6:30. That would be 5.5 hours to go with transition level contractions. I'm glad I did not know that then.

The backup midwife arrived at about the same time as the big contractions. She's generally there for baby once they're born. Her arrival is comforting to see when you can only hope the finish line is getting close!

After an hour of those contractions I was getting very tired. We decided to have me get out of the tub and check on baby's position. While I was dilating well, baby was not descending yet. ("Are you kidding me kid?!")

It took both midwifes, the doula, and Matt all working hard to support trying to get baby to turn. I honestly lost track of all the different things we tried, but I am impressed with the working knowledge we had on that team. They never seemed to run out of ideas, even though no one had gotten any sleep yet that night.

It had already been a long labor. The midwife gave me another antibiotic dose  and we planned to try and have me eat, hydrate, and rest a bit if possible. I was not tolerating oral fluids well anymore due to the intensity of the contractions so a new IV bag was started. I was so tired I was not planning on moving far anytime soon anyway.

Baby had other plans! I'm not sure how long I was able to rest in bed, but I suddenly woke up very certain that SOMETHING was different. That something resulted in my water breaking.

Normally, the way my births have gone, once my water breaks I'm extremely close to delivery.
Not so this time.
There was a nagging little bit of dilation to go. I think it was at this point I started saying, "How is that possible?!"

Cue more work trying to help baby descend. Her little head still seemed just off centered enough to not fully enter the pelvis.

At 5:30 I got back in the tub. I was clearly going to need the help of the water to hold the positions necessary to get the baby in the right position for birth. I was so tired and ready to be at the end.

Labor had been going for 13.5 hours now. The midwife let me know my options at this point. While me and baby were still doing well on vital signs I was very tired, and I had the option to transfer in order to get an epidural and rest in the hospital. It was not an emergency situation, and she still had ideas of things to try, so the decision was up to me.

I thought about the possibility of transfer through the next many contractions. I had never transferred in labor before and was not thrilled with the idea of a car ride while in transition. As I started adding up the time for each step of a transfer process the more I felt that, at least at this point, transferring would delay the finish line.

It was about this time when I started to hear the kids waking up.
That's right. They had actually slept through the night, despite my decidedly NOT quiet labor happening right outside their bedroom door, and were still just hanging out in their room.
Sound machines, people. They work wonders.

Matt texted for the sibling doula to come for the kids, and I kept working on hanging in there through contractions.
I never actually said out loud that I had decided to stay and keep laboring at home. I just kept going. Expecting everyone else to be telepathic. As one can do in labor.

Shortly after I mentally arrived at the decision to stay, baby (finally!) decided to figure out how this exit strategy worked. It only took a few contractions, and Felicity Anne was born in the water a little before 6:30 after 14 hours of labor.

She arrived at about the same time as the sibling doula. The kids got to come see their little sister in her first few minutes out of the womb.

Matt carried Felicity over to our bedroom, while the midwife and doula helped me out of the tub, and the sibling doula got breakfast for the big kids.

The midwives were busy checking vitals on me and baby, cleaning up, draining the birth tub, and starting laundry. Our doula made me a BLT which tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten.

When we measured Felicity I was shocked to hear she was a chunky 9lb 10oz! She had a dent on the top of her head where she had kept hitting the top of my pelvis during contractions (the dent disappeared after a day or two.) Suddenly the length, and difficulty, of the labor made a lot more sense!

All of the post-birth things take at least two hours. I was very glad we had the sibling doula for the big kids. After an all night labor it is a relief not to have to worry about keeping an eye on the well rested, and excited, big siblings.

We spent a few days just getting reset on sleep after that all-nighter of a birth. The kids have done fabulously with their new sister, and we've all enjoyed getting to spend this postpartum time together as a new family of five.


Thanks for reading if you made it down this far! Here's the birth stories of our two older kids, if you are so inclined. (I can't be the only one who loves reading these things, right?)

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